Building a New Scotland: migration to Scotland after independence

This paper sets out the Scottish Government's proposals for migration policy in an independent Scotland.


Migration is an issue of central importance to Scotland's future prosperity, the wellbeing of our communities and the sustainability of our public services.

Independence offers the opportunity to ensure that migration policy for Scotland is set according to Scotland's needs, as a critical component of our response to the demographic challenge we face.

With independence, citizens of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man would continue to be able to live and work freely in Scotland through the Common Travel Area. As we rejoin the EU, we would again welcome fellow EU citizens through free movement – just as Scottish citizens would again be EU citizens, and able to enjoy free movement in Europe.

An independent Scotland would be able to put in place a managed immigration system for people from other countries, with routes designed according to the needs of our economy and public services, and which welcomes people who want to live, work, study, visit or invest in Scotland – allowing them to make the best use of their talents in their new home.

An independent Scotland would also be able to establish a humane approach to supporting refugees and people fleeing conflict and persecution, who deserve our compassion and aid, and be aware of the need for equity for the Global South in our approach to migration. We would be able do all of this with values of dignity, fairness and respect at the heart of all aspects of immigration policy.

That is the approach to migration Scotland needs, and that is the opportunity independence would give us.

Scottish Government November 2023



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